This is China

I’m spending a week in a resort that has no outdoor pool.

Not that I’ll have time to hang out, but really, I think a place without an outdoor pool should be banned from calling itself a resort.

While it does have an indoor pool, they make you wear a swimming cap in the water. A sign tells you so, and the lady at reception made me buy one. What’s up with that? I don’t get it. But my boss tells me it’s apparently common practice in China.

I was trying to access Google for a long time, and then I remembered that Google is banned here. Did you know that you can’t even access Imdb in China? I think that’s pretty screwed up. 

Internet is incredibly slow. I’ve been trying to check my emails for 2 days and have just managed to get through – at 5.30am.

Considering I’m at a Hilton, the food is absolutely awful. This is probably the most terrible hotel food I’ve ever eaten. I’m not even being picky. Actually, let’s not compare it to other hotel food. I’m just saying, as food for humans itself – I don’t know how the “chefs” live with themselves.

I asked for hot tea. They gave me a glass of something like water contaminated with a single sliver of stray tea leaf.  We debated whether it tasted of tea at all.

I’ve forgotten about the little things in China that annoy me. Like when I asked for a copy of a receipt which they somehow say they can’t give me, they literally made me a copy – and a very bad one at that, on a crumpled piece of A4 paper. This is the Hilton I’m talking about. No point explaining. I just stuffed the A4 into my wallet.

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6 thoughts on “This is China

    • Smiley, unfortunately I’m here for work for a week, so with workshops and all that from 8:30am to 6:30pm plus working dinners and group dinners and so on, I’ve only managed to fit in a swim once.

      I’m not really a swimming person though. Not like those who swim laps for a work out. I more like jump in and splash about and then hang out on the side in the sun. So yeah, I don’t understand indoor pools in a RESORT!

      Plus, food is pretty much the only thing I look forward to all day, and they’re really REALLY crap. Everyone here has been complaining…..:(

  1. All the big international hotel chains have been rushing to open a zillion new outlets in China. But it’s pretty well known within the industry that China simply can’t produce enough people with the soft-skills needed for good international-level customer service — at least not at the rate that hotels are being built.

    Most young people with decent English would be able to find a better job elsewhere, which has led to hiring problems. (That said, Chinese staff are paid a fraction of what HK staff make — so maybe hotels should put their money where their mouth is).

    I hear stories, especially since my husband is in the hotel industry — foreign chefs fly in and find that they can’t get basic ingredients, or the kitchen staff can’t follow basic English instructions. The buildings may be gorgeous, but gracious service is something that takes time to learn — and maybe a cultural shift, too.

    I took my parents to Hyatt on the Bund in Shanghai. Lovely hotel, giant rooms, lots of staff who genuinely seemed to be trying their best. Even the maid kept trying to ply us with free toiletries and slippers.

    But the beautifully designed Chinese restaurant served us crusty old rice and the wrong tea. When we pointed this out to the waiter, he said we “didn’t understand Chinese food.” They seated a chain smoker right next to us in the non-smoking section.

    Every time I ordered something different in room service — salad instead of fries, extra side of vegetables — the girl would say “No.” Maybe she was intimidated when I spoke English. Maybe she thought I was trying to get something for free. (This is a common misunderstanding. I have to say, “Give me a side of vegetables. I WILL PAY FOR IT.)

    I had to demand the manager to get what I wanted — poor manager. He must have been dealing with every tiny problem in the hotel. Same when I was caught outside in a rainstorm, and arrived at my room drenched to find out that housekeeping had screwed up my departure date and cancelled my key. It took 25 minutes to fix it. The poor manager had to be called again.

    Hopefully it will get better with time. It’s like the hotel industry is going through growing pains. It did seem like the staff were trying, even the rude waiter. The best service I had in Shanghai, by far, was at The Peninsula, but I think some of their staff may have been trained in HK.

    PS. I absolutely hate shower caps. You’re right. No outdoor pool = no sunning yourself = no resort.

    • Yes, the place I’m staying at is pretty much brand new. I think it’s opened only a few months.

      What you described about the service is spot on. You can see that they’re trying, but they just don’t get it quite right. The best service I’ve had here is from a Thai (yes, Thai) supervisor-type person. Spoke perfect English, gave us normal, hot, drinkable tea, and chatted with us. Sadly, I haven’t had anything good to say about the locals.

      My experience with room service was quite amusing too. I would speak into the phone. The girl would go huh? Then someone behind her will repeat to her in Chinese what I said, then she will respond. Then I’ll say something else, and then the girl in the background will translate, then the girl on the phone will say something to me. And if she said something wrong, the girl at the back will correct her. At one point, they put me on hold to (presumably) discuss how to speak to me. I suppose that was on the job training!

  2. asian hotels probably due to training are not at the same level of service as their european and american counterparts…then again, definition of service is different is Asia compared to elsewhere…take the chinese rating (5-star) and knock off a couple of stars, then you are about right when it comes to service…

    give the chinese a decade or two…things will improve…

    Dora, there are a lot of websites blocked in China (ie CNN, ESPN, BBC, even my local TV station and newspaper website.) and their speedy is pokey at best (had a hard time handling a 32k radio stream…)

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